What is CDC doing about MRSA?

Updated: October 2007
: February 3, 2005

CDC conducts MRSA surveillance, prevention, epidemiologic and laboratory research and outbreak and laboratory support.

Some of those efforts include:

Surveillance (Data Collection & Statistical Analysis)

  • National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), formerly the Nosocomial Infection Surveillance (NNIS) System, monitors healthcare-associated infections including those caused by MRSA.
    • Dialysis Surveillance Network (DSN) now integrated into NHSN, monitors dialysis-associated bloodstream and vascular infections, including those caused by S. aureus and MRSA.
  • Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABC’s) system conducts population-based surveillance for MRSA
    • In 2001-02 surveillance was conducted in three sites to determine the incidence of CA-MRSA and define the epidemiology of MRSA in the community including determining populations at-risk, clinical disease spectrum and outcomes.
    • From 2004-present, invasive MRSA infections are monitored in nine sites across the United States representing a population of about 16.3 million persons.


  • Through the Prevention Epicenter Program, CDC provides funding and works directly with academic partners to address important scientific questions regarding the prevention of MRSA and other resistant organisms.
  • CDC provides direct support and assistance to external partners involved in MRSA prevention initiatives including:
    • Department of Veterans Health Affairs
    • State and Regional initiatives
    • Institute for Healthcare Improvement
    • Other multi-center prevention collaboratives
  • CDC in collaboration with the Healthcare Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) develops and promotes evidence-based infection control strategies to reduce transmission of MRSA and other pathogens in healthcare facilities.
  • CDC launched a national evidence-based educational Campaign to Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance in Healthcare Settings that targets healthcare providers. The Campaign focuses on preventing antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings by promoting four strategies targeting various patient populations including: hospitalized adults, dialysis patients, surgical patients, hospitalized children, and long-term care residents.
  • CDC developed and published guidance for the management and prevention of MRSA in the community based on review of available information and input from clinical and public health experts. (CA-MRSA Clinical Management).
  • CDC collaborates with state and local health departments to develop physician and patient guidance and education materials for MRSA. (MRSA education materials)
  • CDC performs needs and knowledge assessments with public health partners, at-risk groups, and the general public to target the development of guidance and education.

Epidemiologic and Laboratory Research

  • CDC collaborates with public health authorities and academic partners on studies to characterize epidemiology and microbiology of MRSA to guide the development of prevention and control efforts. Some specific activities include:
    • Determining the national prevalence and epidemiology of S. aureus and MRSA colonization through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
    • Determining the prevalence of and risk factors for MRSA colonization and infection among household members of children with MRSA infections.
    • Evaluating strategies to prevent recurrent MRSA infections and transmission of MRSA in households and other close-contact settings
    • Defining the epidemiology and microbiology of skin and soft tissue infections, including those caused by MRSA, in patients receiving care in emergency departments.
    • Evaluating the molecular characteristics of epidemic MRSA strains including resistance mechanisms and virulence traits.
  • CDC works with partners such as Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute to evaluate, develop and standardize methods for antimicrobial susceptibility testing for bacterial pathogens including antimicrobial-resistant S. aureus.
  • CDC is building a national library of MRSA strains (PulseNet) to identify genetic patterns or relationships among different types MRSA that could be used to inform prevention and control strategies.

Outbreak and Laboratory Support

  • Serves as a national leader for investigating and controlling outbreaks of staphylococcal disease in collaboration with state and local health departments.
  • As the national reference laboratory for staphylococci performs confirmatory antimicrobial susceptibility testing, toxin evaluation, and molecular typing for antimicrobial resistant pathogens including MRSA.
  • CDC conducts proficiency testing to assist public health laboratories nationally and internationally in determining their ability to perform antimicrobial susceptibility testing of antimicrobial resistant bacteria including MRSA.
  • CDC provides S. aureus isolates to the Network on Antimicrobial Resistance in S. aureus to support and facilitate critical research efforts among clinical and basic scientists from the academic, industrial, and public health sectors regarding staphylococcal infections including understanding antimicrobial resistance and other medically relevant genetic and physiological characteristics among staphylococci.

Extramural Funding

  • CDC provides funding to academic and public health partners to conduct epidemiologic research and surveillance, and develop educational materials for MRSA. Objectives for recent grants have included:
    • Develop novel methods for controlling the transmission of antimicrobial resistant pathogens including MRSA and study of the cost-effectiveness of the methods.
    • Evaluate strategies to prevent recurrent MRSA infections.
    • Assess the transmission and prevention of MRSA in households.
    • Characterize the epidemiology and microbiology of CA-MRSA including risk factors for infection and molecular characterization of strains. (www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r030923.htm)
    • Determine the economic impact of antimicrobial resistance including MRSA. (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/oer/FY04_Grants.htm)


Date last modified: October 03, 2007
Content source: 
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP)
National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases